November 8, 2016
The Hearts of Rulers Are in His Hand: A Post-Election Post
Post by Brittany Tedesco
By the time you read this, we'll know who the next President of the United States is. But for now, in the cool of Election Day morning, I sit and contemplate the sovereignty of God.
Lifeway Research and Ligonier Ministries conducted a survey to examine the "theological awareness, or lack thereof, of American evangelicals." One of the statements—with which one could agree, disagree, or admit ignorance—was: "God knows all that happens, but doesn't determine all that happens." Of the survey results, 65% agreed with the statement, another huge chunk admitted they didn't know, and a tiny sliver disagreed.
We like to think we're in control of so many things, when in reality, we're really not. I cast my vote this morning, but remembered that it's God who "removes kings and establishes kings" (Daniel 2:21 NASB).
I know there are many Christians in this country who don't believe any of the candidates represent their views and values—and there's much concern over what that might mean for us down the road.
Today, I want to encourage you, once again, to put your faith in God, not in human beings—who will continually let us down, in one way or another.
As I read through the Bible from cover to cover, I see God's sovereignty more clearly than ever. He controls what happens because He has control over people's hearts.
I just finished the book of Ezra, one of the prophets who led a group of Jews back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple after 70 years of captivity in Babylon. I found myself actually chuckling and cheering aloud at the series of events surrounding this momentous time in Jewish history.
Two kings—who were not, by the way, followers of God—blessed God's people because, well, God moved them to do so.
When Cyrus the Great captured the city of Babylon, he allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem. Not only that, we read, in 2 Chronicles 36:22: "the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom" for God's people to rebuild His house (the temple), which had been destroyed when they were taken captive.
So the Jews returned to Jerusalem and started rebuilding. . . that's when the surrounding nations began giving them all kinds of trouble. God's people faced harassment and intimidation and false accusations. The leaders of the other nations wrote letters to Cyrus and subsequent kings. One of these letters told the king that the Jews were rebuilding a "rebellious" and "evil" city and that they wouldn't pay their taxes when it was finished.
For a period of time, the Jews stopped building. They were frightened and discouraged. But then the prophets of God bolstered them to continue the work, despite all of the threats they'd received. It didn't take long for the leaders of the other nations to shoot off another letter to the king.
King Darius was on the throne to receive this letter. After searching through the records, he found King Cyrus' decree that the Jews should rebuild their temple.
I love Darius' response. Not only does he order those who are harassing the Jews to leave them alone and let them rebuild their temple, he tells them to PAY them the full cost of the expenses from their own treasuries and supply the Jewish priests with items for burnt offerings to the Lord!
Darius' letter reads: "Any man who violates this edict, a timber shall be drawn from his house and he shall be impaled on it and his house shall be made a refuse heap on account of this" (Ezra 6:11 NASB).
Mind you, King Darius was not a follower of God. He was actually an ardent adherent of the false religion of Zoroastrianism.
Why would he support God's people like this? Because God put it in his heart to do so (Ezra 7:27).
Christian Aid Mission supports several indigenous ministries in Egypt, a difficult place for Christians to live and work, let alone share the gospel. It's no secret who's who there, as one's religion is marked on their ID card. Christian women who don't cover their hair are often harassed when they go out in public.
Egypt used to be a predominantly Christian country. But then Islam took over. Our field correspondent there told us that her great grandfather had to pay the jizya (a tax imposed on non-Muslims, carried down from the example of Mohammed).
Until recently, Christians weren't allowed to construct (or even renovate) church buildings. Well, technically, they could if they got presidential approval—but only 10 churches have been approved since 2011. According to an article entitled "Let My People Build" in Christianity Today magazine, there were 2,869 churches in Egypt in 2011. . . and 108,395 mosques.
This 160-year-old practice requiring Christians to get permission from the president before building churches just ended. Governors must now issue decisions within four months of receiving an application to build a church and provide good reasons for denial. According to the article, "The law also established a process to retroactively license hundreds of churches erected without a presidential permit."
Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is not a Christian man. He is a Muslim. But God is using him to elevate the status of His people and allow them to build meeting places. And, like King Darius—who went above and beyond just allowing God's people to rebuild the temple—al-Sisi pledged that all churches destroyed by the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 would be rebuilt by 2016.
"Only 8 of the 65 locations have not yet been fully completed," the article states.
Let's not forget: God's hands are never tied by those with earthly authority.
"The king's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes" (Proverbs 21:1 NASB).